Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Probably Not The Way To Earn Respect

North Korea must have hired Baghdad Bob  as a speechwriter:
North Korea is boasting of “powerful, modern weapons” that can defeat in a single blow the United States, which it accuses of plotting a war against it.

Chief of general staff, Ri Yong Ho, gave no further details about the weaponry in his speech to mark the North Korean army's 80th anniversary.
People of a certain age (e.g. my age or older and don't you dare ask!) will recognize immediately the patois of the overblown.
See, we heard this sort of nonsense, from both sides, a lot during the Cold War. Basically, it boils down to "My dad can beat up your dad," or a threat that no one takes seriously except to note that it deflects attention from the real problem: the bully standing in front of you.
Or in North Korea's case, the idiot in the Central Luxury House. but I digress...
Bluffs like this only serve to point out the lunacy of aggression: much like teasing a Yorkie only creates a noisy yap that annoys the family and neighbors, aggressively asserting American exceptionalism and hegemony over nations that can barely field a soccer team, much less an army, ought to be beneath the greatest military power in history.
That said...
It is not inconceivable for North Korea to eventually develop weaponry that the United States could be caught unaware of. You'd like to think that any "powerful, modern weapon" would either be developed by us or our allies first, or we'd at least be aware of it and comprehend the science well enough to develop defenses against it.
And therein lies the rub: American culture has ceded technology and science to other nations, nations that do not necessarily have American interests at heart. It's one thing to say South Korea (just as a hypothetical) has our back and develops technology they share with us, it's quite another to assume that's always going to be the case with a burgeoning behemoth like China sitting on their doorstep.
I mention Korea because they've been accused of warping scientific ethics in the past, like bans on human cloning.
It's one thing to say India will never develop a weapon without sharing their technology, quite another to assume it when their realpolitik includes closer relations with Russia than with the US.
North Korea may be the only nation on the planet whose defense budget eats up a bigger portion of their GDP than ours. North Korea is an extremely secretive place which is the perfect breeding ground for a weapon of mass destruction.
They may not have the ability to develop this kind of weaponry-- that usually involves education and a populace that isn't starving-- but you never know.
People get lucky. All it might have taken to prevent the September 11 attacks was a bad thunderstorm over the northeast.